Christian Saulsbury always strived to be the fastest.
“I always wanted to,” he said. “Ever since I was little, from elementary school, to middle school. I was always the fastest kid in my grade and in my school.”
It was only naturel then, when former Wilde Lake coach Christopher Brewington suggested going out for the track team his freshman year, Saulsbury quickly became one the fastest Wildecats to come through the program.
“Originally, he wanted to get me on the team for jumping, but then he saw me run and was like, ‘Wow this kid is fast.’ So from there that’s how I started running track. It was fun,” Saulsbury recalled. “Sophomore year that’s when I started indoor and that’s when I knew I wanted to do track. I loved track and I wanted to continue it in college. I started setting goals for myself and ever since then I just wanted to get as many medals and titles as I could and to go ahead, I’m happy to accomplish those goals.”
Saulsbury has piled up the hardware since his first indoor season. He has won two Howard County championships, three 3A East Region titles, and concluded his final high school indoor season with his first 3A state championship in the 55-meter dash, and national titles in both the 60-meter dash and 4x200-meter relay. And to add to his accolades this winter, Saulsbury has also been named as the Howard County Times/ Columbia Flier 2016-17 boys indoor track and field Athlete of the Year.
“I think he’s had a naturel talent. What comes from there is the discipline, so for me to see him at the track over the summer… preparing for the indoor season was already important,” said first-year Wilde Lake coach Jud Lincoln. “That competitiveness that he has — it is very subtle. He isn’t brash. He doesn’t talk about it or anything like that, but when he gets down on the line he is ready to go.”
Lincoln joined the Wildecats program after six years coaching at Reservoir. It was a big change for Saulsbury to get a new coach his senior year, especially one to replace Brewington. But ultimately, Saulbury said Lincoln made for a good fit.
“He’s a great coach. He is very textbook with everything. He is very organized and I believe he was a great fit for the team,” Saulsbury said. “For me and the team also, that showed during indoor season. I am looking forward to what’s going to happen in outdoor. Coach Lincoln he takes the game very serious. He likes to have fun sometimes, but he loves to work the team hard and that is what I love to do. I love to put in all the hard work and then have fun once the meet comes up.”
Saulsbury was determined for a bounce-back indoor season after a hamstring injury suffered toward the end of last winter hindered his junior campaign.
“That was the third time I pulled my hamstring, and I just couldn’t get too discouraged,” Saulsbury said. “It was hard, because I love to run and I love to run track. I always want to be on the track, and not being able to, not being able to practice it was hard. But getting back into it, it’s kind of a mental thing.”
Saulsbury worked back to 100 percent entering the season, and he was ready to redeem himself in the 55-meter dash at the state meet, where he lost to Baltimore Poly’s William Henderson by .02 seconds.
However, when it came down to the 55 on Feb. 21 Henderson was disqualified on a false start, postponing the re-match.
“To be honest I don’t really know who would have won that race if we were both off the gun there,” Saulsbury admitted. “I was preparing, just waiting for that race to happen and because he wasn’t there next to me it was like — I wasn’t thrown off completely — but I wasn’t prepared not to run with him. Everyone was waiting to see that race.”
Saulsbury still set a personal record of 6.40 seconds to handily take home the 3A state title. But, he is still looking forward to the re-match against Henderson during the outdoor season.
“I’m just as proud of the state championship. That is what came in for, the medal,” Saulsbury said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him in outdoor... I’m not going to back down from anyone, any team, but I will be humble though. I’m not really a guy who talks much. I just go out and do what I do and leave it all out on the track.”
Saulsbury wasn’t the only Wildecat to have success this winter. Wilde Lake had a small group, but a talented one. T.J Lyles and Jason Macmillan each had top-3 finishes in both regionals and states, while Kareem Press claimed a 3A East Region title this winter as well. Saulsbury, Lyles, Macmillan and Press all set personal records at states and also helped the Wildecats clinch top-3 finishes in either the 4x400 or 4x200-meter relay at both regionals and states.
“Sometimes when you have kids that have talent you just don’t want to mess them up,” Lincoln said. “You don’t want to make them any worse. And so, I felt like by them setting school records — everybody set a school record that competed that day — I was just like, I must’ve done a pretty good job. I didn’t make them any worse. In fact, I made them a little bit better, which I expected to do.”
Saulsbury, Lyles and Macmillan have stuck together since their sophomore seasons, all running in relays together as well. Practice, according to Saulsbury, is as competitive as you would expect.
“T.J is more of a playful guy, but the three of us really push each other at practice and at the meets,” Saulsbury said. “We’re all about the support and leading each other to our greatest potential. Even though we have a small group our practices are still so intense.”
Along with another state title and qualifying for Nationals in his final high school outdoor season this spring, Saulsbury is also looking to break current Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown’s school record in the 100- and 200-meter dash.
“Coach Brewington, he’s stayed in contact with him and he’d always play around with him and always say, ‘That Saulsbury might take that record this year,’” Saulsbury said. “I wanted to do it last year, but I was in the recovering process from indoor so I wasn’t as strong as I wanted to be. It kind of delayed my practices and things like that, but this year I am looking forward to setting new records, winning state titles again and qualifying for nationals, and whatever happens there then it will be a blessing.”
Also named to the All County team are:
Joel Annan, Reservoir, senior
Event: Triple jump
Highlights: The senior was the best triple jumper in the county this season, winning the event at the Howard County Championships on Jan. 17 after jumping a personal best, 40 feet, 3 ¾ inches.
Dae’trell Gordon, Atholton, senior
Event: Shot put
Highlights: The senior was the top shot putter in the county this season, throwing 47 feet, 4 ½ inches to win the Howard County championship title on Jan. 17. Gordon placed third in the 3A East Region Championship meet on Feb. 7 after throwing 47 feet, 7 ½ inches, and then recorded a personal record, 52 feet, 1 ½ inches a the 3A state championships on Feb. 21 to place second.
Erik Jenks, Howard, senior
Events: 500- and 800-meters.
Highlights: The senior earned two county titles on Jan. 17, winning both the 500- and 800-meter races. He clocked in at 1 minute, 8.33 seconds in the 500, and then placed first in the 800 with a winning time of 2:02.38. At the 4A East Region champion meet on Feb. 8, Jenks placed second in the 800-meters with a time of 2:01.20, and fifth in the 500 with a time of 1:08.33. Jenks ran a personal best 1:07.53 at the 4A state meet on Feb. 21 in the 500 to place fourth, and also had a sixth-place finish in the 800 with a time of 2:01.88.
Jordan Lomax, Hammond, junior
Events: High and long jump
Highlights: The junior won a 3A East Region title on Feb. 7 after recording 5 feet, 9 inches in high jump. Lomax placed second in the same event at the Howard County championships on Jan. 17 after jumping 6 feet, while also coming in fifth in long jump with a personal best mark, 19 feet, 11 ½ inches. At the 3A state championship on Feb. 21, he jumped a personal record 6 feet, 2 inches in high jump for a fifth place standing.
T.J Lyles, Wilde Lake, senior
Events: 55-meter hurdles, 4x200-meter relay, high and long jump
Highlights: The senior won two county titles at the Howard County championships on Jan. 17 in high and long jump after recording 6 feet, and 21 feet, 5 ½ inches, respectively — both of which were personal bests — while also placing second in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.89 seconds. Lyles helped Wilde Lake to a second place finish in the 4x200-meter relay at the 3A East Region championships on Feb. 7., and at the 3A state championship meet on Feb. 21, Lyles set a personal record of 7.58 seconds in the 55-hurdles, which propelled a second place finish.
Jason Macmillan, Wilde Lake, senior
Events: 55- and 300-meters, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relay.
Highlights: The senior set a personal record in the 55-meter dash at the Howard County championships on Jan. 17 with a time of 6.57 seconds. He also placed second in the 300-meters (36.23), helped Wilde Lake to a second place finish in the 4x400-meter relay (3:34.91) and first in the 4x200-meters (1:32.90). At the 3A East Region championships on Feb. 7 Macmillan placed fifth in the 55-dash (6.59), second in the 300 (38.00) and second in the 4x200- and 4x400-relays. He ended the season at the 3A state championships on Feb. 21 with a third-place standing in the 55, clocking in at 6.58 seconds and set a personal record of 35.99 in the 300 for fourth, while also aiding in a fifth-place finish in the 4x400-relay.
Kai Muniz, Reservoir, junior
Events: 800- and- 1,600-meters.
Highlights: The junior had a fantastic postseason, starting with second and third place finishes at the Howard County championships on Jan. 17 in the 800- and 1,600-meters, respectively. At the 3A East Region championships on Feb. 7 Muniz placed second in both the 800 (2:03.25) and 1,600 (4:40.43). He ran a personal record 2:00.34 at the 3A state championships on Feb. 21 to place third in the 800, while also running a personal best 4:30.28 in the 1,600 to claim fifth.
Jesse Parson, Reservoir, freshman
Events: 55-and- 300 meters, 55-meter hurdles, and 4x200-meter relay.
Highlights: Parson burst onto the scene in his first year with the Gators, winning a county championship title on Jan. 17 in the 300-meters after running a personal best 36.15 seconds, while also placing third in the in the 55-meter dash and 55-meter hurdles. At the 3A East Region championships on Feb. 7, Parson placed third in the 300 with a time of 38.03, fourth in the 55-hurdles (7.82) and fifth in the 55-dash (6.81), while also helping Reservoir to a third place standing in the 4x200-meter relay. An injury derailed his first 3A state championship meet on Feb. 21, but he did run personal best marks in both preliminary races in the 55-dash and 55-hurdles.
Rahul Reddy, River Hill, senior
Events: 1,600-, 3,200-meters, and 4x400-meter relay
Highlights: At the Howard County championships of Jan. 17 Reddy won both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races. He ran a personal record, 4 minutes, 29.73 seconds in the 1,600, and clocked in a 10:07.52 in the 3,200. The senior placed fourth and third in the 1,600 and 3,200, respectively, at the 3A East Region championships on Feb. 7, and then placed fourth in the 1,600 at the 3A state meet on Feb. 21 with a time of 4:29.77.
Lucas Shilling, Howard, senior
Events: Pole vault
Highlights: Except for a sixth place finish at The Army Hispanic Games on Jan. 7, Shilling never placed lower than third in pole vault all indoor season. The senior won a Howard County title on Jan. 17 after clearing a personal record 12-feet, 6-inches, and then added a 4A East Region title on Feb. 8 after clearing 12-feet. He again cleared 12-feet at the 4A state championships on Feb. 21 for second place.
Andre Turay, Oakland Mills, sophomore
Events: 300-meters, 55-meter hurdles, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays.
Highlights: Turay won a Howard County title in the 55-meter hurdles after clocking in at a personal record time of 7.78 seconds, and also had a personal best time in the 300-meters (37.24). Turay won a 2A East Region title on Feb. 6 in the 55-hurdles (7.88), placed third in the 300 (37.24), and also helped the Scorpions to a third place standing in the 4x200-meter relay. He capped off his sophomore year with a 2A state championship in the 55-hurdles after crossing in 7.72 seconds, and also aided in a sixth place finish in the 4x400 relay.